(Volume 26 Issue 6)
By Jim Scott
There are so many ‘third rails’ in politics that it has become contentious to even mention a topic lest a self-appointed do-gooder paint your forehead with a target and condemn you for even daring to think on a topic for which you are, (to them), clearly unsuitable.
So, I’ll play it safe and just ruminate on immigration for a bit.
What? I’m not qualified? My skin colour, language or place of birth mark me out as a troublemaker whose opinion, a priori is tainted by just being me?
Apparently, there are only two ways to get along in this world and that is to have no opinion or hold the One True Opinion approved by the select group who can scream the loudest at rallies. Fair enough, they’re paid well to be there and hold up pre-printed signs so I guess they’ve earned the right to dictate.
Or perhaps, we should see this crap for what it is and admit that expressing an opinion is what we’re all entitled to do. One hundred thousand dead Canadians in a dozen countries attest to that.
Listen, lots of opinions are stupid. People are bags of chemicals acted upon over time by hundreds of influences good and bad. If you think your chemical soup is better informed than mine, you could be right. That’s your opinion, and so be it.
As for topics about which people might have an opinion, there are not many where you can put all your facts in a basket, arrive at a conclusion, and then move on. Your opinions will always bite you in the ass. Your facts will often be out of date or incorrect/incomplete in a different context, and your conclusions, even if eloquently and completely expressed, will likely bounce off the next person you talk to.
That’s in the nature of education, debate, discussion, learning and maturing. It used to be a hallmark of civilisation to have an open mind, but it seems we’re entering, (re-entering) a medieval period where your open mind is seen as a sign that you don’t quite “get it”. There is a practiced technique of public persuasion that uses noise, humiliation and other discomforts to make sure fellow citizens hold no obvious opinions or the One True one. Since the average person is quite willing to be polite and go along to avoid confrontation, the loud, brash, organised, motivated ‘advocates’ hold more sway with weak-kneed politicians and media types than the majority. With no-one providing counter-arguments or nuance, the relentless press of the advocate’s position entrenches itself in public policy.
Am I suggesting there is no redeemable benefit that can come of this technique? Mais non! Such an opinion would be absurd surely! I suppose we wouldn’t have a 40-hour work week, paid maternity leave, or old age pensions unless advocates somewhere made it clear to the powers-that-be that discomfort was coming for them in the form of mass demonstrations if they did not share the wealth. Universal suffrage required years of busted heads and jail time so you and I could vote.
But there are extremists in every extremist group that insist that victory requires yet more pushing, more destruction of property, more discomfort. Ironically, they desire the revolution come to a halt when they have what they want. Revolutionaries are notorious for viciously cracking down on other revolutionaries who won’t accept the opinion held by the ones who have achieved power. If their heads weren’t in baskets, the reactionary regime would say; ‘I told you so!’
But I started on immigration and there I will bravely end: as the grandson of immigrants I pronounce it good! Well, sometimes, if well run. Our country can use all the talent it can get, even if the poorer countries from whence we draw it are worse off. Uh, that doesn’t sound intrinsically good. Maybe good-ish? That’s my opinion and I’ll stick to it. For now.